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Canada News Report | how the national parties use social media ? ? ? ? ? ?

There’s much ballyhoo from news media about how this will be Canada’s first social m
edia election. In the coming days Canadanewsreport will provide an ongoing asses
sment of how the national parties are handling the instrument that put the first
African American in the Oval Office and ignited the Arab Spring in the Middle E
ast and North Africa.
Social media, the most powerful political tool to come along since advent of the
television, has not been wielded to great effect so far by our federal parties.
Suffice it to say, their deployment of social media is the equivalent of asking
Albert Einstein to do your income tax for you. There will be more of this in fu
ture blogs during the campaign.
They are low bridging their social media capacity to the point where it almost s
eems like they don’t want to unleash it. In effect, it seems like they just want t
o say they have it to show they know how to fight a modern political battle. Rel
iance on Twitter and Facebook is a not the way to take advantage of the social m
edia arsenal. They may as well stick to posing with babies in Calgary, smiling i
n front of sausages in Brampton and tossing bagels in Montreal for traditional p
hoto opps.
The other issue is the news media do not have sufficient grasp of social media t
o provide a cogent analysis of the extent to which the federal election will be
shaped by its power. The recent article by The Globe and Mail’s Bill Curry is a ca
se in point. Curry’s article made the fatal error of focusing on Twitter and Faceb
ook. Further, the coverage provided an inaccurate portrayal of how the Obama cam
paign leveraged social media to win the White House.
An effective social media strategy calls for the creation of social media networ
ks that support party messages and ideas. Such a social media strategy goes well
beyond the deployment of two online tools, Facebook and Twitter. This was the k
ey to Obama’s success. Since there will continue to be comparisons between the Oba
ma social media campaign and the current Canadian effort, we’ll also be talking in
more detail about successful and poor social media practices by politicians in
upcoming blogs.
For today, lets look at the use of Twitter and Facebook in measuring how the onl
ine public perceives the parties. The Globe’s citing of 14,000 tweets as a samplin
g is a feeble way to determine perception among voters. It’s too small a sample to
tell the tale and doesn’t provide the full context. Here’s why. The four parties’ com
bined Twitter accounts number 250,000 followers. That means at this stage only 7
percent of total followers are actually engaged. This is a spurious indicator t
o say the least.
According to Internet World Stats, 84 percent of Canadians use the Internet, the
highest usage per capita in the world. These Internet users perform more than 8
5 million searches a day. This is a vast pool. Therefore, when our four major pa
rties garner 250,00 Twitter followers it shows they are not harnessing the power
that is before them. When the media doesn’t provide the proper context or bring t
he right analytical tools to look at political use of social media, they let the
ir followers down.